"We just recently heard about a
charter coming to Baltz," said Susan Shute. "We don't want Baltz
to become a charter school. We want to keep our neighborhood
she was part of a delegation from the Elsmere school and nearby
Oak Hill and Willow Run who showed up on Apr. 11 at the
regularly scheduled business meeting of the board to vent their
feelings. Their appearance was in sharp contrast to the usual
practice of a taciturn public at Red Clay sessions.
tired of being treated like idiots," said Janet Sharpless, a
Wilmington resident. "Why not include us (parents) in your
process before you make all your decisions final?"
Lynch, who identified himself as a teacher in the district,
suggested that the timing for expanding charter-school presence
is not appropriate. "The future of education in Delaware is up
in the air and we're rushing as fast as we can for a charter
school. It seems strange that we're doing that before everything
else is settled," he said.
and greed have you prioritizing (sic) your needs and wants and
not the children's," said Chris Davis, co-president of the Baltz
Delaforum previously reported, Mosaica Inc., a for-profit
company which already has one state-chartered school in
Wilmington, has applied to Red Clay for two more charters. Red
Clay is the only school district in the state which has
chartered a school, Charter School of Wilmington.
announced that the board will hold three public hearings on the
matter and consider it at a special workshop-style session
during the coming month.
significant about the charter school issue -- which was not a
part of the building program for which voters failed to approve
local financing in the referendum -- is that the negative vote
at Baltz was by far the largest turned in by any polling place.
Had votes there adhered to the general pattern in the district
as a whole, board president William Manning noted just after the
votes were counted on Apr. 10, the $74 million local bond issue
might have been approved. At the time, he attributed the Baltz
vote to "petty political reasons."
Manning nor any other board member responded to the criticism
voiced at the business meeting. After the comment period, they
spent just three minutes approving minutes of previous meetings
and voting en bloc on some routine contracts and
personnel assignments before returning to the closed-door
executive session which preceded the public meeting.
there was no indication of what was being talked about behind
the doors, but a source indicated to Delaforum that no consensus
of board members has yet been reached concerning whether to
attempt again to secure approval of the bonds before the close
of the current fiscal year on June 30 or to push the building
program timetable back at least a year and wait at least until
autumn before holding another referendum. That there will be a
second attempt was the consensus of board members and district
administrators who witnessed the vote count.
comments at the board meeting, it was clear that bundling
improvements at all schools with construction of new elementary
buildings at Stanton and near Hockessin did not sit well with
Santa Barbara said she voted against the bond issue because she
felt "the majority should benefit before the select few" and
called on the board to put renovations ahead of new construction
on the program schedule when it returns for a second vote.
criticized the district for producing brochures and
telemarketing scripts for soliciting favorable votes which
virtually ignored the proposed new buildings. Joe Gregg
suggested the district might be liable for civil action or even
criminal prosecution for allegedly providing the marketers with
information concerning district parents which is proceed by
federal privacy law.
year-around school proposal, which came before the public
comment session at the meeting, was for the most part a repeat
of one made last summer. The matter will be on the agenda for
the board's May business meeting.
described by Highlands principal Judy Stranch, the school would
operate on four quadmesters, devoting nine weeks to conventional
schooling and three weeks to optional remedial work or
enrichment courses. She was not specific on what would happen in
the 13th week in each calendar quarter.
number of days spent in conventional schooling would remain at
the present 180 a year, that would not amount to conducting a
'year-round' school, but adhering to a 'balanced calendar'. She
said that term is preferable to deflect public opposition to
deviating from the traditional summers-off arrangement. She said
the three week periods -- participation in which would be
optional for both students and teachers -- would be known as
is proposing converting to the new arrangement in August, 2002.
Whether that still holds is uncertain because air conditioning
that building in west Wilmington shared with the new schools the
initial year in the building projects schedule which went down
with the bond issue in the referendum.
said the entire student body at Highlands would be on the new
schedule. Parents who did not want their children to be included
would be able to transfer them to one of the other schools
though the public school choice system. Lewis and Warner are
closest to Highlands. To provide for that, she said Highlands
will have to have the green light to proceed by the opening of
the 'choice' application process in November.
there are several advantages to not shutting down over the
summer. They range from more effective learning and reducing the
likelihood of 'teacher burnout' by eliminating long stretches of
work to more productive use of facilities. Most often cited is
preventing students form forgetting some of the things they have
learned during the long break. Manning remarked that "the
excitement of mid-June tends to become boredom by August."
Not the least among the benefits is
enabling families to take vacations at off-peak times, Stranch
said. "They can go to Disney World and not have to wait in those